In men’s tennis, the big three still rule, with Novak Djokovic having won the Australian Open final over Rafael Nadal. On the women’s seide however, a new dawn is here with Naomi Osaka triumphing over Petra Kvitova to clinch her second grand slam title and become the new world number one.
The 21-year old Japanese-American did not have it easy however. Her final match was long, often gruelling but the fact remains that she is more than ready to take on the mantle of the player to beat.
Osaka, who beat her idol Serena Williams last summer to win her first major, is the first woman to follow her debut slam with another since Jennifer Capriati in 2001. She is also the first to win two in a row since Williams in 2015.
The win bags her the world No. 1 slot for the first time, and while she still often fails to put away opponents when the opportunity presents itself, her future is undoubtedly bright.
After it was all over on 26 January, the 21-year-old admitted that at the trophy presentation she “forgot to smile.” But the watching tennis world did not.
It’s early days but Williams would appear to have a genuine challenger at last – especially given the way Osaka made her look every one of her 36 years during last year’s US Open final hammering.
Now 37 and with 23 major titles, it appears less of an inevitability that Williams will surpass or even equal Margaret Court’s record of 24. Suddenly, the previously undisputed alpha female Williams can see predators circling around her in every direction – the major one being Osaka.
Kvitova, for instance, is a giant of the game; regathering her strength after a period of enforced hibernation. A horrific knife attack threatened to finish Kvitova’s career at the end of 2016, but as her run in Australia confirmed she has well and truly rediscovered the form that has taken her to two Wimbledon titles.
With Osaka planning her kingdom, Williams wanting her throne back and a stellar supporting cast desperate to make a land grab, there is a new dawn in women’s tennis.